January 18, 2013
January 24, 2013: The deadline is Tuesday to register for the Foundation’s first Leadership Breakfast of 2013, “Moving Georgia Ahead: What’s Coming Down the Pike.” The 8 a.m. event at Cobb County’s Georgian Club will be keynoted by Robert W. Poole, Senior Fellow at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, co-founder of the Reason Foundation and Reason’s director of transportation policy. Poole, who attended the Transportation Research Board’s meeting this week in Washington, D.C., will provide an update on the outlook for transportation policy and funding. Registration is $25; register here: http://tinyurl.com/y27h3dk.
Mark your calendar: Upcoming speakers at Foundation Leadership Breakfasts include Randal O’Toole of the Cato Institute on February 19, 2013, and Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute on March 19, 2013.
Quotes of Note
“Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis
“The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government – lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.” – Patrick Henry
“The supposed quietude of a good man allures the ruffian; while on the other hand arms, like laws, discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe, and preserve order in the world as property. The same balance would be preserved were all the world destitute of arms, for all would be alike; but since some will not, others dare not lay them aside. … Horrid mischief would ensue were the law-abiding deprived of the use of them.” – Thomas Paine
Decisions, decisions: Should Georgia pursue a state-based health exchange or expand Medicaid? Read our latest report, “Options for Georgia Going Forward under the PPACA,” for the Foundation’s evaluation of Georgia’s choices under the federal health care law.
Innovation: Cox Enterprises has announced the creation of an Atlanta-based $250 million venture capital fund. This is big news; Georgia has lost many promising young companies to other states due to a lack of in-state, early-stage funding resources. Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Digital Learning: In 2012 the Legislature passed legislation expanding expand the digital and learning footprint in Georgia. In The Forum, Foundation Editor Mike Klein reports that the Governor’s new digital learning task force has begun a yearlong project to analyze the state’s current digital learning assets and define its needs and policies.
Futurist Isaac Asimov had it figured out way back in 1988 when he talked about the age of personalized learning, but we’re still trying to implement the idea a quarter-century later, writes Foundation Senior Fellow Eric Wearne.
Show me the money: Nationwide in 2010, state and local governments raised $37 billion in motor fuel taxes and $12 billion in tolls and non-fuel taxes, but spent $155 billion on highways. In other words, highway user taxes and fees made up just 32 percent of state and local expenses on roads. The rest was financed out of general revenues, including federal aid, according to a new analysis by the Tax Foundation. Georgia ranks 34th in the nation, with just 25.6 percent of user taxes and fees going to roads, while user taxes and fees covered just 36.3 percent of all Georgia transportation funding (21st in the nation.) Wyoming and Alaska come last in transportation funding derived from gas taxes and tolls, while Delaware and Florida rank the highest.
Silent but deadly: The federal government is setting “minimum sound requirements” for hybrid and electric vehicles to ensure that blind, visually-impaired, and other pedestrians are able to detect and recognize nearby hybrid and electric vehicles. A study found hybrid vehicles as much as 20 percent more likely to be involved in pedestrian crashes with injuries than non-hybrids. Source: Federal Register
Off track: Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed is promoting his high-speed rail vision for the Atlanta-Savannah corridor as “a trail of prosperity between those two regions.” But all the tea in China isn’t making high-speed rail work in that populous country, where officials say it’s too expensive for the market, according to a China Business Times report. The top price for the eight-hour trip from Beijing to Guangzhou is more than 2,000 yuan, ($317), comparable to the price of an air ticket. Some officials want to reduce train speeds and ticket prices to make ends meet. Ticket prices for the high-speed train are three times higher than that of other railroads, but the high-speed line will still see a loss.
Taking care of business: The nation needs to spend $2.75 trillion by 2020 to maintain and improve infrastructure, according to a study released by the American Society of Civil Engineers. That is roughly 66 percent more than the $1.66 trillion in currently expected funding for such infrastructure as bridges, roads, sewer systems, power grids, ports and airports. “The results show that deteriorating infrastructure, long known to be a public safety issue, has a cascading impact on the nation’s economy, negatively affecting business productivity, gross domestic product, employment, personal income and international competitiveness,” said the report entitled, “Failure to Act.”
Low on ethanol: Few Americans see the link between high food prices and federal ethanol requirements for fuel. Writing for the American Enterprise Institute, Mark J. Perry says ethanol has done almost nothing to reduce dependence on foreign oil. Worse, “So far, neither the Administration nor Congress has confronted the fact that 40 percent of the U.S. corn crop is used to produce ethanol, which has increased retail food prices and strained family budgets in their never-ending struggle to put food on the table.”
Lending a hand? Don’t look to new lending opportunities after the new rules from the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on the “Qualified Mortgage,” warns Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute. Basically, “if it turns out that the borrower cannot afford a loan, the presumption is that the lender was either not careful enough in explaining it or was reckless in providing it in the first place. Wallison predicts that “making a mortgage for anyone but a bullet-proof credit will be a crap-shoot” for mortgage lenders, a risk that many will not be willing to take.
This Week in The Forum: Governor Nathan Deal released his Fiscal 2014 budget proposal on Thursday during his State of the State address at the Capitol. The day before, he addressed the cost of ObamaCare to Georgians when he spoke to the Georgia Chamber’s “Eggs and Issues” breakfast. Next week Forum Editor Mike Klein will cover state agency budget hearings at the State Capitol.
In Checking Up on Health, the Foundation’s Benita Dodd says the administration is offering states more time to create their exchanges and highlights the mandates and growing costs of implementing ObamaCare. These and other recent Foundation articles and posts are on The Forum at forum.georgiapolicy.org/category/the-forum/.
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Visit www.georgiapolicy.org to read the Foundation’s latest commentary, “Electronic Medical Records Keep Natural Disasters from Turning into Personal Health Care Disasters,” by Albert Woodard.
Have a great weekend.
P.S.: A special Shout-Out to longtime Friday Facts fan and Foundation promoter: Veteran radio talk show host Neal Boortz (www.boortz.com) retires after today’s show. We wish you well!
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